Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

Italian for “cooked ream,” this Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries is a natural compliment to many fresh fruits of the season.
Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries by FamilySpice.com

For some reason, Panna Cotta eluded my radar. Italian for “cooked cream,” this dessert always confused me. Is it a pudding? Is it jello? Is it a custard? No, custard has eggs. What does it taste like, ‘cuz it looks weird! I might sound like a kid, but I suppose I needed to jump in myself and try it. I’ve made homemade puddings and custards, so I was also ready to battle Panna Cotta. Would it prove to be more difficult?

Heck, NO! It was super easy to make. No eggs to simmer over a water bath, fearing that they will curdle. In my research on which recipe to try first, I found that Panna Cotta can be made a number of different ways using a combination of milk, heavy cream, plus buttermilk, mascarpone cream crème fraîche and ricotta cheese. My head started to spin.

I chose an old recipe from Bon Appetit for Lemon Panna Cotta because my family loves all things lemony! Middle-child turned 7 this week and we had a family dinner planned to celebrate. We were growing weary of cakes, cookies and bars, and since it was summer, Panna Cotta seemed appropriate.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries by FamilySpice.com

You start by simmering milk, cream and half a vanilla bean together. You want to infuse the cream with vanilla flavor for 30 minutes. Next mix in the gelatin, sugar and lemon zest. Stir in lemon juice and crème fraîche (which I substituted with a sour cream-heavy cream mixture since that is what I had on hand). Pour into pretty glasses and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. I topped them with fresh summer berries right before I served them. You can serve them in pretty stem-ware, like I did, or pour the cream mixture into oiled ramekins, refrigerate, then pop them out of their ramekins and serve the berries around it.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries by FamilySpice.com

They were delightfully light, for such a rich dish. The lemony panna cotta complimented the sweet berries. I’m now a Panna Cotta convert and I’m ready to try the million other varieties out there! And what could be more festive for this July 4th weekend than a dessert screaming red, white and blue?

Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

Italian for "cooked ream," this eggless custard with the tang of lemon is a natural compliment to many fresh fruits of the season. Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2003

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk, whole
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 5 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 tsp gelatin, unflavored
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a small non-stick saucepan, simmer over medium heat:
    • 1 cup milk, whole
    • 1 cup heavy cream
  2. Cut in half and scrape out seeds from:
    • 1/2 vanilla bean
  3. Add seeds and empty pod to the milk mixture and simmer for 5 min.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove and discard vanilla bean pod.
  6. Pour into a small bowl:
    • 5 TBS lemon juice
  7. Sprinkle evenly over the lemon juice:
    • 2 tsp gelatin, unflavored
  8. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.
  9. Stir into gelatin mixture:
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  10. Pour gelatin mixture into milk mixture.
  11. Stir over low heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve, about 2 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat.
  13. In a small bowl combine:
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  14. Whisk sour cream mixture into milk-gelatin mixture until incorporated.
  15. Stir in:
    • 1 lemon , grated zest only
  16. Divide equally among 6 3/4-cup ramekins* or bowls.
  17. Cover with plastic wrap.
  18. Chill in refrigerator until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  19. Prior to serving, top panna cotta with:
    • 1/2 cup blueberries
    • 1/2 cup blackberries
    • 1/2 cup strawberries , chopped

Notes:

Serving Suggestions: You can also use fresh peaches, apricots, nectarines, kiwi or any other fresh fruit. You can also purée the fruit, mix in a little sugar and pour the fruit sauce over the panna cotta.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 6

Cook Time:

Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries Detail

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